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Expectant Mothers across Canada are benefitting from better access to Canadian-based prenatal screening test offered by LifeLabs

TORONTO/VANCOUVER, January 21, 2016 – Expectant mothers all across Canada are taking advantage of improved access to a simple blood test that can provide important information about their pregnancy, including if their baby is at risk for fetal problems and genetic conditions, at as early as nine weeks gestation. The Panorama Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) is the most accurate prenatal test available and has been performed by LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services ("LifeLabs") at its genetics lab in Toronto since October 2015. LifeLabs is the first Canadian laboratory to perform NIPT in Canada, which can decrease the need for invasive tests like amniocentesis in many pregnancies.  

"Since beginning to offer the test in October, interest and uptake by healthcare professionals and their patients has been tremendous. In less than three months LifeLabs is now performing the pre-natal test for expectant mothers in all ten provinces," said Sue Paish President and CEO of LifeLabs.  "By conducting this test in Canada, Canadians have better access to the test and are receiving results faster. Our healthcare system is also realizing meaningful savings."

Non-invasive prenatal testing has become a routine screen for higher risk pregnancies. Panorama is a safe and simple way for expectant mothers to learn about the health of their baby without an invasive diagnostic procedure. It also delivers the most accurate results of any prenatal screening test. Panorama analyzes cell-free fetal DNA circulating in the mother's blood to accurately screen for common fetal chromosomal abnormalities, including trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome), monosomy X (Turner syndrome), and triploidy. The test can be performed as early as nine weeks into a pregnancy without any risk to the mother or the fetus. The test has a false positive rate of less than 0.1%. By comparison, the standard maternal serum screening has a 5% false positive rate.

"From the interest and uptake we have witnessed for the Panorama NIPT, it is clear that healthcare professionals across Canada see the benefits of making this test available to expectant mothers across the country," said Dr. Ron Carter, Director, Molecular Genetics Laboratory at LifeLabs.

Leading professional associations such as the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have recommended that NIPT be offered as a test option to women with increased risk factors for fetal DNA abnormalities.

In Ontario and British Columbia, the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care cover the cost of performing NIPT testing at LifeLabs for expectant mothers who are considered high-risk and meet certain criteria. The test is also available on as a private pay basis to women at lower risk for fetal chromosome abnormalities.

Patients should consult with their healthcare provider to determine if Panorama is right for them. The test can be ordered by healthcare providers across Canada and consists of a simple blood draw collected at any LifeLabs, CML Healthcare or BC Biomedical collection centre in BC or Ontario or collection option in other provinces.  Patients or healthcare providers can contact LifeLabs Genetics to get more details on these options.

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About LifeLabs: www.LifeLabs.com
LifeLabs is a Canadian-owned company with over 50 years of experience providing laboratory testing services to help healthcare providers diagnose, treat, monitor and prevent disease in patients. In communities across British Columbia and Ontario, LifeLabs delivers cost-effective, convenient access to laboratory testing services essential for optimal outcomes in healthcare. LifeLabs employs approximately 5,400 professionally trained staff and delivers over 100 million laboratory tests, supporting over 19 million patient visits annually. In 2013, LifeLabs acquired BC Biomedical in British Columbia and CML HealthCare in Ontario making LifeLabs the largest community laboratory in Canada. LifeLabs is indirectly owned by OMERS Administration Corporation, whose interest is managed by Borealis Infrastructure.

NIPT is one example of LifeLabs' commitment to provide innovations that benefit patients and their families, healthcare providers and governments.  In addition to being the first community lab to conduct NIPT testing in Canada, LifeLabs is the first lab to provide online appointment booking for patients, non-fasting protocols and secure, on-line access to lab results for patients.  For more information about LifeLabs, visit: www.LifeLabs.com.

For more information about the Panorama Non-Invasive Prenatal Test and LifeLabs Genetics, visit www.LifeLabsGenetics.com or call 1 84 GENE HELP (1 844 363 4357).
 
About OMERS Private Markets ("OPM")
OPM (Borealis Infrastructure and OMERS Private Equity) invests globally in infrastructure and private equity assets on behalf of the OMERS pension plan. Investments are aimed at generating superior, risk-adjusted returns to help deliver strong and sustainable pensions to OMERS members. OPM's diversified portfolio of large‐scale infrastructure assets exhibits stability and strong cash flows, in sectors including energy, transportation and government--regulated services. OPM has offices in Toronto, New York, London and Sydney. OMERS is one of Canada's largest pension funds with net assets of CAD$72 billion. For more information, please visit www.omers.com.  

 
Media Contact:
Stephanie Sayer
LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services
(416) 675-4530 x 2015
Stephanie.Sayer@LifeLabs.com

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